Legal Ethics

SEC Lawyer Watched 8 Hours of Porn a Day Amid Financial Crisis

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Republican criticism of the Securities and Exchange Commission has heated up after allegations that senior staff, including a senior attorney in the SEC’s Washington, D.C., office, spent hours surfing porn sites from their government computers.

California Rep. Darrell Issa, the top Republican on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, told the Associated Press that it’s “disturbing that high-ranking officials within the SEC were spending more time looking at porn than taking action to help stave off the events that put our nation’s economy on the brink of collapse.”

Issa was responding to an SEC inspector general memo obtained by the AP. The memo, which was requested by Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, reported on probes of 33 employees who looked at explicit images over the past five years. Most of the reported probes were during the last 2½ years, during the heart of the nation’s financial crisis.

SEC lawyers referenced in summary report (PDF) were:

• A Washington, D.C.,-based senior attorney who “admitted accessing Internet pornography and downloading pornographic images to his SEC computer during work hours so frequently that, on some days, he spent eight hours accessing Internet pornography. In fact, this attorney downloaded so much pornography to his government computer that he exhausted the available space on the computer hard drive and downloaded pornography to CDs or DVDs that he accumulated in boxes in his office.” The AP reports that this individual has since resigned.

• A Division of Enforcement senior counsel who used his SEC-assigned laptop computer numerous times to access Internet pornography. His computer hard drive contained 775 pornographic or inappropriate images.

• A regional office senior enforcement attorney accessed pornographic images from his SEC laptop during work hours and saved sexually explicit images to his computer hard drive. The OIG also found a thumb drive connected to his SEC laptop that contained five distinct videos depicting hard-core pornography.

Also see:

The Atlantic: “Did Porn Cause the Financial Crisis?”

Washington Post: “SEC porn investigation nets dozens”

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